Sasha Yungju Lee
chromogenic print from digitally processed negative
60.6 x 150 cm
© Sasha Lee
With subversive humour, the Korean-Canadian artist Sasha Yungju
Lee examines mass media images, gender identity, and racial erasure.
EYE-CON, her 1997 series of computer-assisted prints, confronts
normative Hollywood beauty. Presented in billboard or cinematic
proportions, each print features a lavishly hand-tinted publicity
still of a celebrated actress or Hollywood “icon,” ranging
from Elizabeth Taylor and Doris Day to Courtney Love and Raquel
Welch. Each adopts a pose appropriate to her particular screen persona
– whether homespun, coquettish, or overtly eroticized. Lee
draws attention to the ethnocentrism of archetypal Hollywood beauty
by digitally substituting her own eyes for those of the stars. In
effect, she transforms this cast of Hollywood goddesses into a biracial
pantheon, underscoring the message of normalized racial hierarchies
by ironically pairing each image with a statement on cosmetic surgery
or racial stereotyping.
EYE-CON emerged not only from Lee’s ongoing concern
about the lack of Asian representation in North American mass media,
but as a personal response to the growing number of young Korean
women undergoing cosmetic eye surgery in order to appear Caucasian.
By performing what she aptly terms “digital surgery”
on these icons of Hollywood beauty, Lee reverses the trend.